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Claire Denis

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ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 1997 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Since Francois Truffaut died in 1984, cinephiles have hungered for a humanist filmmaker who captured the rhythms of daily life and made them the stuff of poetry. That's precisely what director Claire Denis has been about since her sensual feature debut Chocolat (1988), the unsentimental and stirring account of a French girl's experiences in an African colony during the '50s. This year's Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema fixes a spotlight on Denis, bringing together three shorts and six features - including the rare 50-minute Keep It for Yourself and her latest, Nenette and Boni.
NEWS
May 17, 1989 | By Steven Rea, Inquirer Staff Writer
"It's a sad and beautiful world," Italian comic-actor Roberto Benigni sighs ruefully in the Jim Jarmusch film Down by Law. It is a line, too, that's wholly appropriate to Chocolat, which opens today at the Ritz Five and marks the directorial debut of Claire Denis, a production assistant to Jarmusch on his despairing, deadpan 1986 prison-break comedy. Chocolat is sad in its depiction of French colonial Africa, of the assumed superiority of white Europeans over an indigenous black society - which Denis terms "the perverted, day-to-day life of humiliation and frustration.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 5, 1995 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Claire Denis' haunting film views contemporary Paris as a high-stakes Monopoly game, where new arrivals circle the city's fringes and hope a lucky roll of the dice will help them accumulate money and power. They worry about drawing the card that will send them directly to jail without passing Go and collecting 200 francs. Among the characters competing on the board are an aspiring actress from the former Soviet Union, a musician from Martinique, an enterprising hotelier who asks few questions of her guests, and a phantom killer who preys on elderly ladies and is known as "The Granny Murderer.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 24, 2002 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
The passionate declaration "I want to devour you" takes on a whole new meaning in Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day, a beautiful (and tongue-in-cheek funny) tale of obsessive desire and, yes, cannibalism. Virtually a silent movie, Trouble echoes early vampire classics. Denis, one of France's most consistently adventurous filmmakers, composes her frames with stark artistry: From the slow pans of a woman's figure in a bath to the strange membranes encased in lab jars, the images are powerful and evocative.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 4, 2003 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Friday Night is a slow, virtually wordless fantasy about a thirtysomething Parisienne (Val?rie Lemercier) who, stuck in an epic traffic jam, picks up a stranger (Vincent Lindon) and then hies off to a hotel to have sex with him. Claire Denis, the exceptionally gifted filmmaker of Chocolat, I Can't Sleep, and Beau Travail, tries her hand at something delicate and fanciful here. Her movie isn't hot and heavy, the sex isn't raw and raging, and the characters have no past and no future: They are just there, in the moment, and maybe they're not really there at all. (Denis hints, playfully, that the whole anonymous encounter may be the idle daydream of a woman trapped in her car.)
ENTERTAINMENT
May 17, 1989 | By Gary Thompson, Daily News Movie Critic
"Chocolat," set in Cameroon near then end of French rule in the late 1950s, is a stylish movie that exposes the hopelessness of white colonial rule in Africa. The movie was directed by rookie Claire Denis, who has worked as assistant director on "Paris, Texas" and "Down by Law," and who plainly prefers the slow-moving tone and pace of those movies. "Chocolat" sometimes moves so slowly that it seems it's not moving at all. And at times, the film is made leaden with obvious symbolism and foreshadowing (when wild animals attack livestock, the scene is preceded by silent shots of vultures and graveyards)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 4, 2009 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
The title of Claire Denis' beautifully observed 35 Shots of Rum is never fully explained, but that's part of the quiet mystery, and majesty, of this elliptical portrait of a group of French Africans living on the outskirts of Paris. There's a story to be told about drinking down the 35 consecutive glasses, but Lionel (Alex Descas), the taciturn train conductor who is one of Denis' central characters, never quite gets around to it. Wrapped in gentle melancholy, and featuring long, wordless passages as people ride trains, cook meals, and motorbike through the Paris night, 35 Shots of Rum is visual poetry, but poetry that examines the human condition with insight and illumination.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 10, 2010 | By Steven Rea, Inquirer Movie Critic
Claire Denis' directing debut, 1988's Chocolat , was a beautiful, bittersweet autobiographical reverie about a French colonial girl growing up in West Africa. The extraordinarily talented filmmaker's most recent piece, White Material , offers a horrifying bookend: the story of the manager and co-owner of a coffee plantation in an unnamed modern-day West African nation that is in the throes of violent political upheaval. Isabelle Huppert is the woman, Maria, trying to hold her family business together and gather the crops as the world crumbles around her: The French military is pulling out, and rebels and government troops are engaged in fierce battle.
NEWS
May 17, 1989 | By Desmond Ryan, Inquirer Movie Critic
Chocolat, the strikingly assured directing debut of Claire Denis, proves once again that the most perceptive insights are often given to outsiders. Denis, who served a long and clearly fruitful apprenticeship as assistant to such filmmakers as Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch, takes up the familiar theme of the evils of colonialism. But in returning to Cameroon, where she spent part of her childhood as the daughter of a French civil servant, she does not become mired in melodrama. Chocolat is a deceptively tranquil reflection - one that views a mercifully vanished society through a prism instead of holding it up to a mirror.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 28, 2009 | By Tirdad Derakhshani, Inquirer Staff Writer
Do you dig the current vampire craze? Do you love Twilight so much you'd die for it? Then skip South Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook's violent, bloody Thirst , a genre-bending - if not genre-destroying - foray into the vampire myth. Thirst has more in common with Claire Denis' deeply disturbing sex, blood and angst orgy Trouble Every Day (2001) and Abel Ferrara's overblown Søren Kierkegaard-meets-Prince Vlad college seminar The Addiction (1995)
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ARTICLES BY DATE
ENTERTAINMENT
December 10, 2010 | By Steven Rea, Inquirer Movie Critic
Claire Denis' directing debut, 1988's Chocolat , was a beautiful, bittersweet autobiographical reverie about a French colonial girl growing up in West Africa. The extraordinarily talented filmmaker's most recent piece, White Material , offers a horrifying bookend: the story of the manager and co-owner of a coffee plantation in an unnamed modern-day West African nation that is in the throes of violent political upheaval. Isabelle Huppert is the woman, Maria, trying to hold her family business together and gather the crops as the world crumbles around her: The French military is pulling out, and rebels and government troops are engaged in fierce battle.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 4, 2009 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
The title of Claire Denis' beautifully observed 35 Shots of Rum is never fully explained, but that's part of the quiet mystery, and majesty, of this elliptical portrait of a group of French Africans living on the outskirts of Paris. There's a story to be told about drinking down the 35 consecutive glasses, but Lionel (Alex Descas), the taciturn train conductor who is one of Denis' central characters, never quite gets around to it. Wrapped in gentle melancholy, and featuring long, wordless passages as people ride trains, cook meals, and motorbike through the Paris night, 35 Shots of Rum is visual poetry, but poetry that examines the human condition with insight and illumination.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 28, 2009 | By Tirdad Derakhshani INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Do you dig the current vampire craze? Do you love Twilight so much you'd die for it? Then skip South Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook's violent, bloody Thirst, a genre-bending - if not genre-destroying - foray into the vampire myth. Thirst has more in common with Claire Denis' deeply disturbing sex, blood and angst orgy Trouble Every Day (2001) and Abel Ferrara's overblown S?ren Kierkegaard-meets-Prince Vlad college seminar The Addiction (1995), than with Catherine Hardwicke's misty-eyed teen vamp romp.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 4, 2003 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Friday Night is a slow, virtually wordless fantasy about a thirtysomething Parisienne (Val?rie Lemercier) who, stuck in an epic traffic jam, picks up a stranger (Vincent Lindon) and then hies off to a hotel to have sex with him. Claire Denis, the exceptionally gifted filmmaker of Chocolat, I Can't Sleep, and Beau Travail, tries her hand at something delicate and fanciful here. Her movie isn't hot and heavy, the sex isn't raw and raging, and the characters have no past and no future: They are just there, in the moment, and maybe they're not really there at all. (Denis hints, playfully, that the whole anonymous encounter may be the idle daydream of a woman trapped in her car.)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 29, 2002 | By Carrie Rickey INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Once upon a time in Hollywood, there was a difference between studio movies and indie films. But in 2002 - when the edgy romance Punch-Drunk Love (U.S. gross, $18 million) carried a corporate imprimatur and the mainstream comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($218 million) was an independent - such distinctions no longer applied. This year, the operative difference was between the big-event movie (think The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and the small, personal film (Real Women Have Curves)
ENTERTAINMENT
May 24, 2002 | By Steven Rea INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
The passionate declaration "I want to devour you" takes on a whole new meaning in Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day, a beautiful (and tongue-in-cheek funny) tale of obsessive desire and, yes, cannibalism. Virtually a silent movie, Trouble echoes early vampire classics. Denis, one of France's most consistently adventurous filmmakers, composes her frames with stark artistry: From the slow pans of a woman's figure in a bath to the strange membranes encased in lab jars, the images are powerful and evocative.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 1997 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Virtually any Hollywood movie gives you Men With Guns. But only the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema gives you Women Without Implants, Anne DeSalvo's kiss-off to breast augmentation, which will bring the actress/director home to her native city to introduce the comic short in the "Oddities and Ironies" program at 9 p.m. May 1. Although DeSalvo, whose face may be familiar from Stardust Memories and Unstrung Heroes, is not a household name,...
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 1997 | By Carrie Rickey, INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC
Since Francois Truffaut died in 1984, cinephiles have hungered for a humanist filmmaker who captured the rhythms of daily life and made them the stuff of poetry. That's precisely what director Claire Denis has been about since her sensual feature debut Chocolat (1988), the unsentimental and stirring account of a French girl's experiences in an African colony during the '50s. This year's Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema fixes a spotlight on Denis, bringing together three shorts and six features - including the rare 50-minute Keep It for Yourself and her latest, Nenette and Boni.
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